Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watching Mom breathe

I am once more sitting with my mom and watching her breathe.  She was having such a hard time earlier that my sister and I thought this could be it but a change of position calmed her breathing right down.

I am surprised that mom is still with us.  She has had little to nothing to eat or drink in 8 days.  Her oxygen levels rose back into the 80's I think yesterday. Maybe the day before. It is hard to keep track as the days all seem to run together. Her heart rate is on a roller coaster ride I think.  That is probably related to how much morphine she gets.  She often has lengths of time where she sleeps peacefully so even though she can have morphine every two hours we usually don't disturb her while she is sleeping well.  But the cut back in drugs allows her heart rate to rise again.

We try to keep Mom comfortable as far as is possible. We find a position that allows her to sleep and we are so happy but she has to be rotated periodically and I'm always sorry when the next position is uncomfortable for her.  She starts doing crunches repeatedly.  I don't know how she has the energy to do them for hours on end since she isn't eating more that a few bites of yogurt each day.  She can't sit up as far as she used to but her head still leaves the pillow and if you place a hand on her torso you can feel all the muscles tighten.   We hope that when she gets her resurrected body, it will have abs of steel. 

Mom has lost a lot of weight and continues to urinate fluids from her body stores.  Her little intake of fluids can't begin to match the output.  So much of her water weight is gone that we noticed today how thin her ankles have become.  I've never seen Mom with anything but thick ankles, (a trait I was sorry to see passed on down the gene pool), but they are normal size ankles now. Her fingers are blue, and I can't decide if that is from lack of oxygen or just because all her veins are showing through the skin.

For a couple of days we were able to get yes and no answers from Mom to questions such as, "Are you too cold?" Today she is not engaging with us at all.  Not verbally and not with her eyes.  For a while she was turning her head when we spoke so we knew she was hearing us.  Today she shows no recognition at all.  She is however, talking to someone in Swedish.  Yesterday she mumbled words that we couldn't understand at all. Today her Swedish is quite clear.  She has been answering yes or no to unheard questions. I would love to know for sure who she is talking to. I presume it is her parents and sister, maybe grandparents but as yet, I've not had the privilege to see with whom she speaks.  Since she is speaking Swedish I presume it is someone from Sweden anyway.  It is amazing that this room could be full of spirits waiting for Mom's time to come.  We hope that somehow they are able to give aid and comfort where we don't know how.

I went through all our scrapbooks and started scanning every picture I could find with my mother in it. I found quite a lot of them from her girlhood to recent pictures.  It has been fun to look at them all. I have also posted a different picture every day as my profile picture on Facebook in honor of Mom. She is a beautiful woman.

My daughter and a niece have each written very loving blog posts about their grandmother.  You can read those here and here.

It is now tomorrow so here are a few of those pictures of Mom:

Ready to catch the train
Leaving Sweden for America

The bride
Mr and Mrs Keith Morgan
Mom holding me
Mom and me
My wedding reception
Grandma with baby B
Grandma with baby J
Grandma and Grandpa with baby H
Mom in Swedish costume
Mom and me
Always a wave from the porch as we drive off

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One more Homestead Humor

In the building where my mom lives, most of the residents have memory loss but there are some that have good minds with non cooperative bodies.  Such was the case with one woman who was often dryly humorous. One of the aides told me that as this resident was bedridden and dying, she went in to give her morphine which was administered orally. After tasting the morphine the resident said, "Why did you just give me cat pee?!"  The aide laughed and replied, "When have you tasted cat pee to know what it tastes like?"  The resident came back with, "I just did!"

Conversation I overheard at The Homestead the other night.:

Aide: We are going to put you to bed now.
Resident: What?
Aide: We are going to put you to bed.
Resident: Okay but what do I do with my feet?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I love you mom

I'm sitting in semi darkness in my mother's room at The Homestead.  I'll be staying a good part of the night with her. Her decline continues. She is now fully bedridden. First she was having such trouble sitting up in her wheel chair that Dad started feeding her in her room on a recliner.  She seemed to do better there as it was easier to stretch out her torso and allow the food to go down rather than coming back up which was fairly frequent.  It was a number of days before she threw up again. We were concerned about her getting bedsores so they alternated her sitting in the recliner and lying in her bed.  Next the hospice nurse decided it was too taxing for Mom to move back and forth so now she stays in bed full time and just gets rotated from side to side every couple of hours.  They change her in bed, dress her in bed, bathe her in bed.  Who knew you could wash someone's hair while they are in bed? Her breathing became so rapid and labored that the nurse started her on a low dose of morphine when her rate would get above 32 breaths a minute. Her kidneys have started to shut down.  We only offered soft food in small quantities.  Sometimes she ate and sometimes she preferred sleep. The throwing up started again though and we have realized that her stomach is shutting down.  Last night she kept down a couple bites of yogurt but this morning she threw up the 2 tablespoons of applesauce she ate. So now no food.  And no water.  She will just choke on that and it puts her at a greater risk to get pneumonia which would be an even worse way to die.  She is on morphine full time now and today the dosage was upped some too.  When she starts doing sit ups, we know she is no longer comfortable.  She breathes through her mouth so the hardest thing for me is not giving her water. I can just imagine how dry her mouth is and I want to cry for her.  We swab her mouth and she clamps onto the swab to suck every drop of moisture out of it. I wish I could do more.  I wish she could just go and put an end to all this. It is hard to watch her and feel helpless to make her feel better.  Today employees that won't be working again until next week came in to say good bye to her.  It was very touching to see how much they love her. One wasn't even working today. She said she just felt like she should come right now so she did.  Another came and whispered in her ear for a bit and then turned and left without saying a word as she fought back tears.  That made me weepy and I've been so since.  Angie who has been one of our most beloved aides has been crying with us and is ever so tender with Mom.  She told us that they have cut back her work hours. No more full time aides. I told her we are all worried about her with fewer work hours. She is a widow and sole supporter for her children. I told her I was afraid she would have to leave for another job with more hours. Her immediate response was, "Not while Inga is here."   She gave me her phone number and asked us to call if anything happens before she gets back to work next week And judging from the aides coming in to say goodbye, they seem to think that Mom won't be here past the weekend.

I find that once tender teary-ness has started it is difficult to control. Witnessing the tenderness of the employees here started it for me today. I had been okay this evening until Mom woke up and I could assist her by swabbing her mouth and helping the aide turn her.  Then as I looked into her clouded eyes I could no longer control my emotions.  I don't know how much Mom understands of what we say to her but I hope that deep down inside somewhere she felt me say I love her and I'll miss her. I wouldn't keep her here in mortality for anything and will rejoice in her being freed from the body that holds her spirit captive but it doesn't mean I won't miss her. I love you Mom.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's day

I wanted to post about my kids for Mother's day because they are what made me a mother.  When I was a little girl and everyone stated what they wanted to be when they grew up, most of the girls said "stewardess" or "nurse" or something like that.  I always wanted to be a mom. I don't remember ever wanting to be anything else.  This desire probably reflects on my mother I should think. 

 So Boo #1 came along just in time for me to graduate from college.  Hard to see but she is wearing a mini grad hat.  She was about 7 weeks old on graduation day.  This sweet little one first made me a mom.

One thing I've learned by going through pictures of the kids is that I was most often taking the picture so I have lots of cute pics of the kids but not so much with me together with them.

Was that 80's hair or what!

And here is boo #2, a boy this time.  Life was good being a mama twice. We've moved into the 90's now and my hair got short but it didn't stay that way long. Never liked it short....

Are babies any sweeter than when they are sleeping?

 And here we are with Boo #3 on the way.  On the way and almost there, thankfully.  I was getting pretty huge. That hair had some time to grow out again. 

 And Boo #3 arrived.  Look at that yawn.  A sweet little girl to round out our family. 

Three great kids.  Three great blessings. I love being a mom.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Strange kind of Mother's day

I've been thinking how strange this Mother's day seems to me.  My mother is not doing well. I don't know how long she will last in her current state but it is apparent that we are nearing the end.  Before my Mother's illness I don't know when the last time was that I spent a Mother's day with my mother. We lived too far apart.  Now she has been here for 4 1/2 years so I've had Mother's day with her each of those years but mostly she hasn't really been my mom on those occasions. You can read about another Mother's day here where I felt my mom with me for real. So I'm facing another Mother's day and this time instead of just acknowledging her mental state declining I am watching her dramatic physical decline as well. I'm watching her body fail to function.  I'm praying that she can just go to sleep and not wake up rather than decline further. I'm praying for her to be able to die.

It is an odd thing to want your parent to die.

In some ways, I lost my mother a long time ago but not through death. I have wondered if when we get to the first Mother's day without my mom on this earth, will it feel like the first Mother's day without her? I remember after my mother's mother died, my mother sitting alone in the chapel on Mother's day crying quietly to herself.  Is that how I will feel? Or is it possible that I might actually feel closer to her when she has left her mortal body because then my real mother will be rid of the disease that took her personality and ability to act like a mother?

During the years my mother has been here, I have put up a very tall emotional wall.  It would have been too hard to feel the emotions that go with having a loved one deal with this disease. It would be too painful. So up went the wall.  I don't allow myself to cry. At least not very often. But in the last little while as it has become apparent that she is failing, a few tears have leaked through my wall. I still can't let the wall come down as there are too many things that have to be dealt with matter of factly, but there was a leak.

So this Mother's day I will celebrate with each of my children around me, but I'll be thinking about my own mother and trying to sort out the feelings I have about her leaving this world. I already know what it is like to not have my mother in mind and I know what it is like to be physically distant from her, but what will it be like to recognize that soon I will not be able to reach out and touch my mother? At least not until the next world.

So this Mother's day seems strange to me. This will be my last Mother's day with my mother. It is a good thing as she will be able to leave suffering behind but I'm conflicted in my feelings.

It is an odd thing to want your mother to die.